Pharmacy Technician / Assistant

Pharmacy technicians are skilled members of the pharmaceutical healthcare team. Working under the direct supervision of a licensed pharmacist, these allied health professionals help keep today's pharmacies running smoothly, filling prescriptions and dispensing medication to doctors and the public.

As the job responsibilities of pharmacists widen, technicians are stepping in to carry out many routine procedures on their behalf. The expanding role of the pharmacy technician is expected to drive demand at least through the end of the decade, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

In the past, this growing career required only a minimum age of 18 and a high school education. Technicians were primarily trained on the job. Although this is still true to an extent, employers increasingly expect job applicants to have formal training, whether through a certificate- or associate's degree-granting program. Additionally, many states now require the completion of an approved course of education before technicians can become licensed.

Students should look for pharmacy technician schools that are accredited by the Pharmacy Technician Accreditation Commission (PTAC). Formerly, pharmacy tech programs were accredited by the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP) and the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE), but PTAC accreditation will replace both beginning in late 2014.

Degrees in Pharmacy Technology

Vocational Certificates

Many pharmacy technicians sign up for year-long vocational certificate programs to enhance their prospects when applying for competitive jobs. It is a popular way to establish a basic pharmaceutical skill set on which to build in the workplace. A comprehensive program will help clarify the technician's role in the modern pharmacy. To get into a program, applicants may need to demonstrate proficiency in English communication and intermediate algebra. They may also need to pass a background check and have current immunizations.

During training, students practice the dispensing process and investigate the world of commercial drugs and the brands under which they are sold. Many programs expect graduates to demonstrate detailed knowledge of at least the top 100 brand-name and generic drugs, including what they look like and how they should be ingested by patients. Students should become familiar with the state and federal regulations that govern the dispensation of pharmaceuticals where they will practice.

Aspiring pharmacy techs master the ability to properly handle sterile products and repackage medicines without spreading disease. Aseptic techniques, clinical safety and matters of hygiene should be emphasized throughout the curriculum. Quality vocational certificate programs also give students a chance to participate in an externship involving hands-on clinical practice. Note that, in some states, pharmacy technicians must register with the state's Board of Pharmacy while in training to ensure they are qualified to interact with patients during their clinical practicum.

Coursework leading to a certificate in Pharmacy Technology includes:

  • Introduction to Pharmacology
  • Pharmacy Laboratory Skills
  • Medical Terminology

After finishing training, students are free to seek state licensure and professional certification. The National Association of Boards of Pharmacy has information on the different state licensure laws.

What types of jobs are available to graduates of certificate-granting vocational programs?

  • Pharmacy Tech I - Inpatient
  • Medication History Technician
  • Pharmacy Technician - IV Specialist

Associate Degrees

An associate's degree is generally considered the top credential for aspiring pharmacy techs. Associate programs in pharmacy technology provide a broader scope of education that may impress prospective employers. Students at this level get the chance to practice computational skills, dive into the world of third-party insurance, and learn to operate advanced medical equipment.

After earning a degree from one of the accredited pharmacy tech schools, graduates seek state licensure or registration. This usually involves passing an exam and furnishing proof of training. Some graduates also pursue professional certification at the national level. Certification is voluntary in most states, but a professional credential is increasingly desired by employers. The best pharmacy technician programs prepare students to pass a recognized certification exam upon graduation.

A Certified Pharmacy Technician (CPhT) has passed either the National Pharmacy Technician Certification Examination (NPTCE) administered by the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board or the Exam for the Certification of Pharmacy Technicians (ExCPT) administered by the National Healthcareer Association. Applicants do not need proof of postsecondary training to be eligible for these tests, but they do need a high school diploma or GED and zero felony convictions on their record.

Associate-level courses in Pharmacy Technology might include:

  • Medical Law & Ethics
  • Unit Dose & Medication Preparation
  • Professional Communications & HIPAA

What careers are accessible to pharmacy techs with an associate's degree?

  • Pharmacy Tech II - Outpatient
  • Pharmacy Plan Assistant
  • Pharmacy Technician Instructor

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We found 193 schools offering pharmacy technician degree programs in the U.S.

>> See all 193 Pharmacy Technician / Assistant Colleges in the U.S.

Pharmacy Technician Schools By Total Enrollment

Community College of the Air Force
Montgomery, AL  |  Total Enrollment: 378162

Degrees Offered: One but less than two years, Associate's
Miami Dade College
Miami, FL  |  Total Enrollment: 46834

Degrees Offered: Less than one year, One but less than two years, Associate's
Houston Community College System
Houston, TX  |  Total Enrollment: 40929

Degrees Offered: Less than one year, One but less than two years, Associate's, Two but less than 4 years
City College of San Francisco
San Francisco, CA  |  Total Enrollment: 39386

Degrees Offered: Less than one year, One but less than two years, Associate's, Two but less than 4 years
Community College of Southern Nevada
North Las Vegas, NV  |  Total Enrollment: 29905

Degrees Offered: Less than one year, One but less than two years, Associate's, Two but less than 4 years
Pima Community College
Tucson, AZ  |  Total Enrollment: 28078

Degrees Offered: Less than one year, One but less than two years, Associate's
Santa Ana College
Santa Ana, CA  |  Total Enrollment: 27571

Degrees Offered: Less than one year, One but less than two years, Associate's, Two but less than 4 years
Austin Community College
Austin, TX  |  Total Enrollment: 25735

Degrees Offered: Less than one year, One but less than two years, Associate's
Cerritos College
Norwalk, CA  |  Total Enrollment: 24536

Degrees Offered: Less than one year, One but less than two years, Associate's
El Camino College
Torrance, CA  |  Total Enrollment: 24067

Degrees Offered: Less than one year, One but less than two years, Associate's, Two but less than 4 years

Browse All 193 Colleges With Pharmacy Technician Programs

Title City State Enrollment
Academy of Careers and Technology Beckley WV 320
Academy of Professional Careers San Diego CA 187
Aiken Technical College Graniteville SC 2268
Albuquerque Technical Vocational Institute Albuquerque NM 17265
Allied College - Maryland Heights Maryland Heights MO 406
Amarillo College Amarillo TX 8422
American Career College Los Angeles CA 1383
American Institute of Health Sciences Long Beach CA 90
American Institute of Medical - Dental Technology Provo UT 360
American Institute of Medical - Dental Technology Saint George UT 100
Arapahoe Community College Littleton CO 7436
Arizona College of Allied Health Glendale AZ 141
Ashland Technical College Ashland KY 503
Augusta Technical College Augusta GA 3265
Austin Community College Austin TX 25735
Baker College of Flint Flint MI 3896
Baker College of Jackson Jackson MI 1027
Baker College of Muskegon Muskegon MI 2727
Baldwin Park Adult & Community Education Baldwin Park CA 3295
Becker College Worcester MA 1166
Bidwell Training Center Inc Pittsburgh PA 119
Black Hawk College Moline IL 6118
Blue Ridge Community College Flat Rock NC 1826
Bossier Parish Community College Bossier City LA 4332
Brewster Technical Center Tampa FL 181
Bridgerland Applied Technology College Logan UT 304
Caldwell Community College and Technical Institute Hudson NC 3191
California Paramedical and Technical College Long Beach CA 169
California Paramedical and Technical College Riverside CA 436
Cape Fear Community College Wilmington NC 5470
Capps College Mobile AL 586
Career Centers of Texas - El Paso El Paso TX 883
Carver Career Center Charleston WV 212
Casper College Casper WY 3972
Central Carolina Technical College Sumter SC 2546
Central Georgia Technical College Macon GA 3787
Central Ohio Technical College Newark OH 1832
Century Community and Technical College White Bear Lake MN 6937
Cerritos College Norwalk CA 24536
Charles A. Jones Skills and Business Education Center Sacramento CA 4132
Chattanooga State Technical Community College Chattanooga TN 7873
City College of San Francisco San Francisco CA 39386
City Colleges of Chicago - Malcolm X College Chicago IL 8638
Clark College Vancouver WA 8241
Cleveland Institute of Dental - Medical Assistants Cleveland OH 92
Cleveland Institute of Dental - Medical Assistants Mentor OH 94
Cleveland Institute of Dental - Medical Assistants Lyndhurst OH 50
Clover Park Technical College Lakewood WA 7921
Columbia Basin College Pasco WA 5714
Community College of Allegheny County Pittsburgh PA 15556
Community College of Southern Nevada North Las Vegas NV 29905
Community College of the Air Force Montgomery AL 378162
Concorde Career College Memphis TN 755
Coosa Valley Technical College Rome GA 2313
Cuyahoga Community College District Cleveland OH 19518
Davidson County Community College Thomasville NC 2356
Delgado Community College New Orleans LA 12784
Delta Career Institute Beaumont TX 72
Denmark Technical College Denmark SC 1240
Denver Technical College Denver CO 814
Denver Technical College at Colorado Springs Colorado Springs CO 470
Draughons Junior College Bowling Green KY 304
Draughons Junior College Clarksville TN 304
Draughons Junior College Inc Nashville TN 158
Duluth Business University Dultuh MN 267
Durham Technical Community College Durham NC 4915
Eastern Iowa Community College District Davenport IA 6179
Eastern New Mexico University - Roswell Campus Roswell NM 2980
El Camino College Torrance CA 24067
El Paso Community College El Paso TX 18001
Eton Technical Institute Federal Way WA 101
Everest College - Everett Everett WA 345
Everett Community College Everett WA 6102
Fayetteville Technical Community College Fayetteville NC 8310
Foothill College Los Altos Hills CA 14193
Fortis Institute - Forty Fort Forty Fort PA 99
Four - D College Colton CA 179
Front Range Community College Westminster CO 12962
Gallia Jackson Vinton Joint Vocational School District Rio Grande OH 355
Gateway Community and Technical College Covington KY 1024
Gateway Community College New Haven CT 4157
Grays Harbor College Aberdeen WA 1950
Greenville Technical College Greenville SC 10786
Hacienda La Puente Unified School District - Adult Education City Of Industry CA 2030
Harrisburg Area Community College - Harrisburg Harrisburg PA 7572
Healthstaff Training Institute Inc Santa Ana CA 32
Heart of Georgia Technical College Dublin GA 1068
Henry Ford Community College Dearborn MI 12742
Heritage College Denver CO 271
Holyoke Community College Holyoke MA 5754
Houston Community College System Houston TX 40929
Institute of Technology Inc Clovis CA 1003
Jones County Junior College Ellisville MS 4514
Kirtland Community College Roscommon MI 1307
Lake Superior College Duluth MN 3972
Lakeshore Technical College Cleveland WI 2742
Lamar State College - Orange Orange TX 1939
Long Technical College Phoenix AZ 299
Louisiana State University at Alexandria Alexandria LA 2386
Madison Area Technical College Madison WI 14474
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